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Motoring serendipity? Sort your garage!

2014-10-27 09:32

SERENDIPITY: We all need a ‘man cave’ (aka garage) for the things you never knew you’d need one day. I’m sorting mine and re-discovering old car and motorcycle parts that’re sure to be of use... one day. Image: Dave Fall


My hobbies tend to come and go and usually depend on my bank balance – which this year has reduced to a trickle. Times are decidedly tough, methinks.

For those lucky enough to own a garage I suspect even fewer man-hours are being spent within those four walls. You, like me, have most likely had to postpone getting that classic-car tappet cover or motorcycle headlight rim re-chromed because bread and milk are more important right now.

Take heart! Rule 1: Don’t ever be tempted to sell your pride and joy - your asking price probably wouldn’t be reached, anyway. I’ll give you some learned advice: rather bite the bullet, sit tight and do some lateral thinking in your quest to complete that perfect rebuild or refurbishing project.


It’s all about striking the perfect medium. I’m assuming you’re a family man so a recent UK report I came across would certainly have relevance: the headline said: “Museum Numbers Soaring as Families Look for Free Day Out”.  

Right now most museums over there are seeing an increase in visitors of as much as 40% over 2013 (well, it is getting towards winter and museums have central heating and free admittance!). The survey looked at 300 museums up and down the UK – among them the Victoria and Albert, the Tate galleries and my favourite, the Science Museum in Kensington, London.

I’m not suggesting for one moment that you and your family jump on a plane and do the foreign museum/planetarium thing any day soon but have you been to your local one in your home town lately? It’s more than likely well worth a look - an excellent way to entertain the family on a shoestring.

Which brings me to the concept of taking the occasional stroll through flea markets or searching for those elusive auto jumbles. You’d be equipped, naturally, with an exhaustive parts list, just in case the very piece you are looking for just happens to be staring you in the face


Right now I don’t have an old motorcycle or car to work on here in the Mother City - more’s the pity - because I’m discovering some amazing items at flea markets and occasional garage sales that are advertised in the local news media.

I’ve found car books and yet another obscure tool to add to my collection to adjust the fuffle valve on a 1920 Crockmobile that I’m sure to find one day. I’ve also got safely hoarded early VW Beetle clobber that I never knew I needed and some eclectic car manuals - most bought at bargain prices (sometimes even less).

I’m fairly certain that if I did have some sort of list to work from in search of the rarer items they would surely have been ticked by now. I’ve seen boxed sets of brand new Hepolite pistons for a Mini Cooper, a reconditioned Chrysler brake booster for a Letter Series car, a wood-rimmed, riveted, MG steering wheel, a classic set of Jaguar knock-on hubs and an extremely rare Lucas Altette hooter suitable for just about any pre-war British car.

One stall-holder a few weeks ago told me he has a pre-war Bentley “Flying B” motif going cheap.


Meanwhile, the buzz word at auto jumbles over in the UK now is the term “trunk traders” - no doubt originating from across the Atlantic. In times gone by I’ve visited a few of the Brit auto jumbles looking for elusive Velocette clutch plates and BSA valve guides, etc, and being stunned by the amount of new old stock (NOS) parts available, usually at the most reasonable of prices.

I well remember one old-timer turning to me at the entry gate and remarking: “By heck, lad, you could decide here and now on a certain bike to build up from scratch before you start huffin’ around the fields… by nightfall you’d’ve collected most components anyhows!”

Now’s the time to mark time and find out exactly what you have spirited away in your garage and what’s missing - there’s an awful lot of like-minded folks ready to do ‘the auto jumble’ thing up and down our beautiful country.

Why not try a bit of trunk trading? You meet the nicest people.

Read more on:    dave fall  |  south africa

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